It is that time of the year again! The time when children in all-whites are seen waving their flags around on the streets, marching towards their schools, in anticipation of some laddoos when they return. The time when children set up in dead-straight formation in school playgrounds, marching to the drumbeat and paying homage to freedom fighters. The time when echoes of Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram come from Public Addressing Systems. The time when the 52-second chant of the national anthem brings a chill down every Indian’s spine. The time when we all feel liberated, and join in unison to celebrate independence, celebrate freedom; even if we do it until the clock strikes 12 on August the 15th, and everything reverts to a state of ‘normalcy’ on August the 16th.
As you sit down sipping your late morning tea/coffee in your living room enjoying 1 of the 3 yearly national holidays, ask yourself – if you celebrate Independence Day at your workplace. Not the ‘let’s all wear tri-color and take selfies’ celebrate, but celebrate freedom – freedom of thought, expression, and action.
Are you, as an employee, independent at work? Are you, as an employer, granting your people that independence at work? Are you, as an organization, celebrating Independence Day? And not just for one ceremonial and decorated day, but every day. Flaunting wearing tri-color one day and your true colors for the rest of the year is rudimentary/irrelevant anyway.
Organizations could very well use this Independence Day to free their people of imperialistic control and provide them independence, in the true spirit. Autonomy, after all, increases employee productivity, keeps them satisfied, makes them stay longer, and most importantly, is the right thing to do.
Starting today, give your people the:
Freedom to take decisions
Don’t apply bureaucratic constraints on your people and take away all decision-making powers from them, resting them in the hands of a handful bosses. Giving people autonomy to take the final call, to choose the projects they want to be a part of, can be fruitful. Every business sets out to make profits – the average ones keep citing ‘constraints’ and ‘business needs’ as excuses and can never truly liberate their people; the exemplary ones create an architecture where both people can take their own decisions and the business keeps flourishing. Look no further than Google’s 20 percent time, where people were given the power to choose which projects they would want to work on 20 percent of the time.
Freedom to express themselves
Allow your people to say what they feel, even if that doesn’t align with the organization-wide populist beliefs. Go one step ahead and create an environment where people are encouraged to voice divergent views. A place where there is a diversity of thought is the one which prospers. Ideo, a famous design company, thrives because of the diversity in thought process the various members of every team bring.
Freedom to try and experiment
Encourage people to experiment, reward and recognize people for doing so, and appreciate people for trying but not succeeding. Adobe, for example, pioneers in encouraging people for trying and celebrates both failures. In an interview with People Matters, the then SVP – Customer and Employee Experience at Adobe, shared how they recognize achievers in R&D, reward people for sharing disruptive ideas, and then fund them to pursue those ideas.
Freedom to fail and rise again
Fear is a powerful emotion. Powerful enough to stop potential world-changing discoveries, powerful enough that because of its presence, a lot of ideas and innovations don’t see the light of the day. Fear of failing, fear of getting rejected, fear of losing the position in the company, is what has made so many people hesitate and decide not to put their hand up when asked to start something new at the organization. Companies need to give their people an environment where they don’t have the fear of failing and provide them the strength to rise up if they do. That’s how successful ventures are built.
Imperialism ended in this country 70 years ago. But do you feel that it still runs in your organization? Do your people breathe freedom when they step in at work? Does your environment has that air of freedom about it? If you haven’t created such an environment yet, create one. If you think you have, make it better. If you have made it better, then maintain it. The forefathers didn't fight for anything if the free citizens do not have any feeling of freedom in their offices.
Pledge to make every day in office an Independence Day!
People Matters wishes you a very Happy Independence Day.